When I began my MAET (Master of Arts in Educational Technology) program at Michigan State University, my goal was pretty simple - I wanted to learn everything possible about every edtech tool I could. My role at school was expanding to include technology integration coaching, and I thought I needed to immerse myself into learning all I could about edtech tools. I assumed that if I did that, I would be great at not only integrating technology better in my STEM classroom, but also in coaching teachers to do the same in their classrooms. I soon realized that first of all, it is not possible to learn everything about every edtech tool. And, secondly, there are new tools being created every day, so this task would be overwhelming and never-ending.
I also began reflecting on my own learning over the years and realized I did not have many learning experiences in school. I was in high school in the 80’s, and education was more about learning facts and regurgitating them than about learning to apply anything. There was no experience, there were only lectures, notes, and tests about facts. I realized that technology affords us many opportunities to teach students to apply what they are learning to their day-to-day lives. Technology can connect facts with application. Technology used correctly can transform learning.
It was not long into my MAET journey that my goal of simply learning about edtech tools changed completely. My goal became how to create better learning experiences for our students and have them be more engaged in their learning. The edtech tools were just that - tools. As I continued in my classes, I began to turn my focus to how technology used intentionally can enrich a student’s educational journey rather than simply be another thing a teacher had to learn to do in her classroom. Being in the role of student at MSU, I was able to engage in my learning using edtech tools in a way that allowed me to learn in new and exciting ways. It was easy to make the connection from my learning to my students’. I wanted them to enjoy the same victories on their educational journeys that I was enjoying on mine.
As I complete this amazing degree program at MSU, I know that my goal changed because I changed. I changed my mindset and the way I use technology. Technology is an amazing tool and should be used in every classroom today, but it should be used intentionally with the goal of creating more authentic learning experiences for our students.
I still have a desire to learn all I can about edtech tools, but it is no longer with the goal of simply knowing and utilizing them. It is with the goal of using the right tool for the right lesson at the right time. The goal is intentionality.
[Photograph of magnified word goals]. (n.d.). https://pixabay.com/photos/goal-arrive-to-achieve-set-target-2045924/
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This work by Pam Culbreth is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0
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